News and Information

“From the Field”

Ohio School Districts Prep for the 2018 Graduation Cliff

he Issue

In mid October, President Obama announced that the national graduation rate hit an all time high of 83.2% [White House Press Release]. Ohio, however, is slated beginning in 2018 to move in the opposite direction. In 2018, Ohio will transition to new graduation requirements, which requires students to meet one of three pathways in order to qualify to graduate

[Graduation Requirements 2018 and Beyond]. Beginning with this year’s juniors, students must earn a minimum performance score on seven (7) end of course (EOC) exams, earn an industry

credential and achieve a minimum workforce readiness score on a standardized test, or earn a remediation free score in language arts and mathematics on a nationally recognized college entrance test. For a variety of reasons, the transition to these new requirements have placed a significant undue burden on students slated to graduate in 2018 and beyond.

If Ohio continues with its current graduation requirements, it will fall off of the proverbial “graduation cliff” and encounter a significant decline of high school graduates, well below the national average. Besides the significant human toll of this issue, Ohio’s future workforce, and subsequently, its economy will be adversely harmed.

The notion that students have three different pathways available to qualify to graduate is a bit misleading. Essentially, any students who are likely to qualify for graduation by accumulating the prerequisite number of end of course points are also the students most likely to earn remediation scores on college entrance exams. Likewise, the opposite is also true, those students at risk for not meeting the EOC threshold are also those more likely to be identified on college placement exams as needing remediation. In 2016, 73% of Ohio high school juniors took the ACT. 69% of students taking the ACT scored remediation free in English, 53% in reading, and 49% in mathematics [The Condition of College and Career Readiness]. With the mandate that all students take the ACT beginning in 2018, it is very probable that these percentages will decrease.

The chart below is a comparison of projected graduation rates for school districts in Champaign and Madison Counties. This chart illustrates the challenge districts and most importantly, students face in meeting the new legislative requirements to graduate high school.

Superintendents also have concerns with requirements for the industry credential and workforce readiness track. For example, not all current career and technical programs have a single credential worth the required twelve (12) points. Multiple programs literally cannot award the credential until the student has already graduated high school. Both issues would require career centers to move away from their articulated programs in order to chase graduation points across various career pathways. This idea runs completely contrary to the philosophy of career tech education. Finally, the WorkKeys assessments were originally developed to create job profiles for adults already working in various industries and some in advanced occupations. The assessments were never intended or validated to be used as a graduation requirement and are inappropriate for this use.

Possible Solutions

  1. Hold the classes of 2018 and 2019 harmless from high stakes consequences of the end of course exams. (If this is not Possible, at very least, lessen the threshold for graduation from 18 points to no more than 14 points ­ an average of 2 points per test).

  2.  Provide students who do not meet the 18 points (or the current threshold for graduation) with an alternative pathway, which is not solely dependent on high stakes testing.
    a.  Similar to remediation courses in Higher Education, if a student does not score an adequate amount of EOC points in a             particular content area, require the student to take additional coursework in that content area. Provide funding for the                 additional coursework.
    b.  Adapt current law which allows for students who do not pass all sections of the OGT to graduate if they meet certain                attendance and classroom performance. This should be a local decision as it is now.
    c. Consider how both these options can apply to career tech.

  3. Consider how to support the integrity of implementation by reviewing student performance data for the first two graduating classes for the full implementation EOC exams to determine financial and other capacity building issues state and district­wide. Provide support to districts accordingly.

  4. Based on student performance data, phase in a gradual increase of graduation expectations. Use the data to chart a fair and gradual increase to 18 points needed for graduation.

  5. n regards to career tech, use the industry credential as sole means as measuring workforce readiness. For those pathways, which do not lead to a credential prior to graduation, take into account course and/or internship performance within the field.

 

Educators in our local school districts witness the success and challenges of our students, schools, and communities every day. As such, the opinions of those from the field can serve as a valuable resource as laws and policies are considered and vetted. The superintendents in Champaign, Clark and Madison Counties stand ready to work side­by­side with the Ohio Department of Education and our various elected officials on behalf of our students in order to improve their academic performance and eventual success in life. We simply asked that lawmakers and the Ohio Department of Education work together with us in this endeavor.

Champaign County

Mr. Kirk Koennecke, Superintendent, Graham Local School District

Dr. Dan Kaffenbarger, Superintendent, Madison Champaign County ESC

Mrs. Danielle Prohaska, Superintendent, Mechanicsburg Exempted Village School District

Dr. Rick Smith, Superintendent, Ohio Hi Point Career Center

Mr. Chris Piper, Superintendent, Triad Local School District

Mr. Charles Thiel, Superintendent, Urbana City School District

Mr. Kraig Hissong, Superintendent, West Liberty Local School District

 

Clark County

Mr. Dan Bennett, Superintendent, Clark County ESC

Dr. Robert Hill, Superintendent, Springfield City School District

 

Madison County

Mr. William Mullett, Superintendent, Jefferson Local School District

Mr. Gary Chapman, Superintendent, Jonathon Alder Local School District

Dr. Lou Kramer, Superintendent, London City School District

Mr. Tim Dettwiller, Superintendent Madison Plains Local School District

Mrs. Kim Wilson, Superintendent, Tolles Career and Technical Center

 

Supporting  Information 

The notion that students have three different pathways available to qualify to graduate is a bit misleading. Essentially, any students who are likely to qualify for graduation by accumulating the prerequisite number of end of course points are also the students most likely to earn remediation scores on college entrance exams. Likewise, the opposite is also true, those students at risk for not meeting the EOC threshold are also those more likely to be identified on college placement exams as needing remediation. In 2016, 73% of Ohio high school juniors took the ACT. 69% of students taking the ACT scored remediation free in English, 53% in reading, and 49% in mathematics [ The Condition of College and Career Readiness ]. With the mandate that all students take the ACT beginning in 2018, it is very probable that these percentages will decrease.

The chart below is a comparison of projected graduation rates for school districts in Champaign and Madison Counties. This chart illustrates the challenge districts and most importantly, Students face in meeting the new legislative requirements to graduate high school.

“From the Field” is a collaborative publication by school district superintendents in Champaign, Clark, and Madison Counties. This publication is intended to help educate legislators, the board of education members, Ohio Department of Education representatives, parents, and other interested parties on the actual effects of legislation and Department of Education policies on classroom teaching and learning. Replies, comments, and/or questions may be addressed to Dr. Lou Kramer, London City School District Superintendent at lou.kramer@london.k12.oh.us, Dr. Dan Kaffenbarger, Madison Champaign County ESC Superintendent at kaffenbarger@mccesc.k12.oh.us, or Dr. Robert Hill, Springfield City School District Superintendent at hill@spr.k12.oh.us.